Are Pullups or Rows Better for Back Width?

Young muscular man doing pull ups exercise on horizontal bar. Sports, fitness concept.
If you want a wide back, you should target the lat muscles. (Image: PaulBiryukov/iStock/Getty Images)

Developing a wide back is a much sought-after goal of anyone looking to build a muscular physique, as it makes your upper body look more impressive and commanding. The muscles that you want to target for a wide back are the latissimus dorsi, which you can work best with rows.

Read More: Back Row Exercises

Latissimus Dorsi

The latissimus dorsi, also known as the "lat," is the largest muscle in your upper body. It originates in your lower back, known as the lumbar spine, and works its way up to the middle of your back before stretching all the way out to your shoulders. This muscle, when it is well-developed, looks like a pair of wings coming out of the side of your back.

This big, powerful muscle acts to pull your arms down toward your body and in toward your sides, as well as rotate them internally (the same movement as giving a "thumbs-down). It also can help you exhale if you are breathing heavily.

Types of Back Exercise

If your goal is to get a wide back, you want to focus your training on working this massive muscle. If you develop it sufficiently, you'll start to notice it growing out to the sides. There are two main types of back exercises: vertical pulling and horizontal pulling.


Copyright © 2018 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.